Birds from your window. House Martin.

Few people know that House Martins are named after that time in Doc Martin when Dr Martin Ellingham (played, of course, by the brilliant Martin Clunes) temporarily moved out of the house he shares with Louisa (played, of course, by the brilliant Caroline Catz) into a much smaller house where (with excellent comic timing) he regularly bumped his head on low rafters, door frames, and the like. Up until that episode (“It’s Good To Talk” Series 7, episode 3) was broadcast (21st September, 2015) house martins were known as ‘blue sand martins’ or ‘a bit like swallows but not quite the sames’ and, frankly, the need for a proper scientific name for them had become increasingly obvious to many in the ornithological community. Alternative names (including Penhale’s Crush and Bert’s Latest Money-making Wheeze) were considered too vague, long, or confusing. House Martin just seemed to fit. And so, in early October, 2015, a big meeting of all the important bird watching people unanimously declared that the new name for the house martin, “house martin”, was officially the new name for house martins.

Incidentally (and interestingly) Doc Martin is a spin-off from the 2000 comedy drama film, Saving Grace, which starred (the, of course, brilliant) Brenda Blethyn. Blethyn would later star in Vera, which just goes to show how much influence one film can have on the ITV schedule. It would, perhaps, be hard to convincingly pull off a Doc Martin/Vera crossover, due to the very different moods of the two shows but, in my opinion, it would be worth a try.

House Martin (Delichon urbicum)

  • When trying to identify a house martin, it is worth remembering their folk names.
  • They got their name ‘blue sand martins’ by looking like a sand martin but being blue.
  • They got their name ‘a bit like swallows but not quite the sames’ by looking a bit like swallows but not exactly the same. They don’t have deeply forked tail of swallows and their throat is white, not red.
  • House martins are also a bit smaller than swallows.
  • But they are the same size as sand martins, so concentrate on the ‘being blue’ bit when comparing them to sand martins. They are a much darker blue than in the drawing but I only had a few pens when I drew it.

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